Went to lunch today at Spanky's BBQ on 43rd St off Times Square. The big neon pig outside was promising, as was the Gael Greene review (warts and all) posted on the door, and the huge rotisserie smoker in the front room.
Alas, service was horrible. They had some big party in the basement room, we kept seeing platters of BBQd chicken and corn on the cob go downstairs. As such, we waited 7 minutes for our waitress to spot us and another 30 minutes for the arrival of our main dishes (our appetizer never appeared). The young waitress could at least have been gracious or proactive about the problems, but simply angrily blamed everything on the kitchen "which I have no control over".
And to add injury to insult, the food was HORRIBLE:
My brisket was fatty, tough, and tasteless -- probably the worst I've ever had -- and the BBQ sauce on the table generic.
The "tater tots" on the menu were actually potato croquettes (not the same thing at all), and not very good.
My friend's short ribs had a great rub with some heat, but were so tough after much struggling he had to ask for a steak knife to cut them apart. These from a rib where the meat should (or at least could) be almost falling off the bone. Again, the worst BBQd ribs we've ever had.
The collard greens, oddly enough, were excellent -- possibly the best I've ever had. And the desserts looked great in their display case, but after such a long wait for our food (they call it a lunch hour for a reason, people) we just wanted to get the hell out of there.
And one other word of advice to restauranteurs and managers who read these boards (since it's a pet peeve of mine): in places where people eat some or most of the food with their hands, you need to wipe down the BBQ bottles (and salt shakers, etc.) along with tabletops. Our BBQ bottle was dirty and sticky and disgusting.
I love us some BBQ, and I might give it another try in six months or more if they manage to work out all their kinks and I hear a LOT of people rave about it.
But until then I'll stick with Virgil's just up on the next block, even though it's next to impossible to get into (three words of advice: reservations, reservations, reservations).
I hope to save other Chowhound readers from this kind of disappointment if they're looking for BBQ in the Times Square / Bryant Park neighborhoods.